Three people to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

November 18, 2019

Before you pick up your fork and dive into those mashed potatoes, let’s take a moment to reflect on the three types of people every RDH should be thankful for in dentistry.

Thanksgiving is, by far, my absolute favorite holiday. What’s not to love about having a random Thursday off work to sit around in stretchy pants and eat all day?

In my home, I have several traditions surrounding Thanksgiving. It begins the Wednesday evening beforehand, where my brother and I spend the entire evening (and early into the morning) drinking wine, dancing to music in the kitchen and meal prepping for Thanksgiving morning. I know it sounds silly, but this Wednesday-night tradition has really grown-so much so, that friends come over and it has become a true holiday in and of itself.

Thursday morning, we wake up with slight headaches and bags under our eyes to start the Glühwein, a German-mulled wine. Throughout the morning, friends stop by the house, enjoy a glass of holiday-spiced wine or a mimosa, grab a plate of breakfast and gather in the TV room to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Food is coming in and out of the kitchen all day, the wine glasses are never empty, and about mid-afternoon, the turkey enjoys a trip to the sauna.

The 30-45 minutes before dinner is absolute chaos. Between the dogs scampering around the kitchen attempting to pick up leftovers, there is a rush of people scurrying around. My brother is carving the turkey in one corner of my kitchen, I’m juggling multiple side dishes moving in and out of the oven and typically my friends are tip-toeing between to shuffle dishes to the buffet line.

We gather at the table, take a deep breath and soak it all in. One by one, we go around the table to share what we are thankful for. I know it sounds silly, but there is not a dry eye at the table. You see, something magical happens when we just stop amongst the chaos, sit down and truly reflect on how incredibly grateful we are for the things we have in our lives. After a few moments of truly sharing the deep connection of gratitude we have for the things we appreciate most in this world, we laugh it off, enjoy another sip of wine and dig into our fabulous meal.

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I don’t think my Thanksgiving traditions are all that unique from most everyone else’s in the United States. The incredible dichotomy between the chaos of the meal prep and the humbling energy of sharing what we are most grateful for is truly beautiful.

I think the dental office could stand to take a few tips from the Thanksgiving Day table.

While many of us know we are about to enter the “I want to use my benefits before the end of the year” rush, I think it’s important to find the opportunities to stop amongst the chaos, take a deep breath and express gratitude for the incredible people in our world.

So, before you pick up your fork and dive into those mashed potatoes, let’s take a moment to reflect on the three types of people every RDH should be thankful for in dentistry. Enjoy!

Fabulous Co-Workers

I think most of us will easily admit that a dental practice almost feels like your home away from home, and co-workers are your extended family. In many cases, one could argue that you spend more waking hours with your co-workers on most occasions than you might your own family.

Yes, the days in a dental practice can be long and often frustrating. Like ships passing in the night, we are usually so busy that we are unable to connect with our co-workers. We find unique ways to communicate with each other (thank goodness for post-its and dental charades, right?) and oftentimes we know what each other is thinking without even sharing it out loud. We all have “work wifeys” and “dental besties”; the people who make our days brighter just by working alongside them.

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I think we can all agree that they are the people who make the days fly by, the ones who can lighten any mood and the ones who just understand without explanation. They are the ones we look forward to seeing in the morning, the ones we share a quick snack with, and the ones who simply understand when we just CAN’T take that patient back. “Don’t worry, I’ve got it,” they say and with a sense of relief, we realize that what we have is more than just a co-worker; they are a true partner in cavitron, our ride or diode, or simply the Darby to our Wilkins.

They are simply the best, and so I raise my glass of Glühwein to them and their awesomeness. Cheers!

Awesome Patients

We all know those patients whose names on the schedule precede them

Who doesn’t love it when Mr. Jones is on the schedule?  He’s the perfect elderly man who shows up early to enjoy the cartoon section of the daily newspaper, has the best jokes, and always has plenty of stories about his years in the service, his grandkids, his ailing wife or his current hobby. He’s everyone’s favorite patient because he truly is part of the family of the practice. We are curious about how he is doing, we want to see the pictures of his granddaughter’s wedding and we want to be in his presence. We smile behind our mask as a parade of office employees stop by, requiring us to discontinue our instrumentation so they can squeeze in a hug and “How are you?” from Mr. Jones. He makes us smile, he makes us laugh, and he reminds us why we love what we do.

You know what’s even better? When Mr. Jones brings in Mrs. Jones and they have an adorable couples’ dental cleaning. How heart-warming is it to witness the husband fawn all over his wife while re-enacting their own little version of The Notebook?  (are you awkwardly grinning while reading this? That is how you know you’re a true hygienist!) 

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They are the ones that make this craziness worth it because their dynamic energy and kindness absolutely light up our worlds!

They are the ones that can turn your day around, can make you forget about the pain in the alginate patient before them and truly remind you of why you do what you do.

So, for these kind patients, to the ones who make it all worth it, I raise my mimosa. Cheers!

Our Doctors

Let’s be real for a moment: Dental hygienists are a unique breed of people. Our special combination of compulsive, highly-organized, Type-A personalities is heightened once we put on our loupes and microscopically treat disease at a millimeter-level.

As such, our doctors are victim to the “you’re running late for my exam” looks in between completing an emergency root canal in op #1 and seating a crown in op #2. It may be hard to admit, but it’s possible we aren’t the easiest personalities to work with. Despite this, our doctors appreciate us, trust us, and view us as a valuable member of the oral healthcare team.

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Many of them go out of their way to do kind things for us around the holidays to ensure we feel loved as team members and many of them find ways throughout the year to ensure we feel supported in the work we do. For many of them, they somehow figure out how to not only excel as clinicians but also as entrepreneurs in which their businesses provide healthcare to the community, as well as income for many people and their families. I can only imagine the immense pressure placed on them to build and maintain a successful and vital practice while also ensuring a happy team of skilled clinicians and support staff.

While most of us can clock out and leave our work in the office, many of our doctors take emergency calls during nights and weekends, spend their free time taking business coursework and, read countless articles on how to optimize their practices. Despite the things they can oftentimes do to drive us crazy, they are true heroes in the practice, and I find it important to remind them of how awesome they are!

So, to you, docs, I raise the entire darn gravy boat. Cheers!